Serenity and Spines – Lodging [on] the Desert

Please go to Palm Springs. There’s no glitz here.

But if you like it very laid-back, getting dusty and being outdoors in the sun to hike or lounge, Borrego Springs could fit the bill. 

Where I stayed, the Borrego Springs Motel, is a good base to explore the low desert. Modern, clean, spartan, non-pretentious, comfortable. From my stay, 1/14/2014 –

a Desert Bighorn Sheep sculpture, that powerfully tough animal that is such an integral part of the desert…only seen one, that in ’90…

Borrego is Spanish for sheep, but Borrego is also a surname I see in the SW. Plants, plants….Compass Barrel / Ferocactus cylindraceaus, doing what it’s named after, pointing to the south. Less plant surface is exposed to their endless sun that way.

the typical form with the pink glow of backlighting…Opuntia phaecantha behind it

I do like the Nevada form of that barrel more, though. I posted on it – here. In Las Vegas, some call them “Nevada Fire Barrel”. Same species, but the higher and more northerly, 4 season Mojave Desert.

an Airstream, that view…would you guess the Pacific Ocean and greater San Diego are 50+/- miles as the crow flies, in that direction?
in-room coffee, no TV, no wi-fi, but still I’m working on something I’m dreadfully behind on…and my favorite, morning light with a desert mountain vista :-)
no comment on oleanders, again, or such a huge shrub against a column…Texans dissing Californians…
more rock grills and less oleanders, please…how about Hopseed Bush / Dodonea viscosa instead…
I dubbed this the Ocotillo Terrace, as if it were mine…this is for sunset drinks my next visit…don’t you know it

Borrego Springs has minimal, but basic, good eating and some shopping. Even an art gallery where I reverted to my favorite images of ocotillos, mirages, roadrunners, skulls, jagged mountains…

If you plan well, you can even pick up some gastrnomic provisions back in San Diego at places like Trader Joe’s, though some may be available in town. It’s important to be stocked up to maximize enjoyment of the incredible desert air, and being around few but friendly people in an old-time desert oasis.

Except May through October – this motel is closed then, and many people leave the valley, since summer there is beyond cruel.

But on a “winter” morning, it’s divine. If only I had $10 for each license plate I saw about town that day, from places like Oregon, Minnesota, Illinois, or Canada. I wonder why so many?  :-)

what I would do…the grand ocotillos, cactus, agave stay…
Beavertail / Opuntia basilaris is puffing up, getting primed for spring bloom and growth…this happens 2-3 months later in my region..
yes, solar-powered…plants…a Sonoran Desert signature, Smoke Tree / Psorothamnus spinosus…no, Saguaro is not the only Sonoran signature
not sure of this cholla’s identity, but note that it’s cristate…lots of joints had fallen on the ground, yet none were liberated…
smoke trees so sere against that sky…you should see the blooms…they signal the arrival of hyper-summer…even the devil goes on vacation then
time to head out…blowing off driving home until much later…

Borrego is even listed at #11 among “America’s Coolest Desert Towns” – try this.

more to see down nearby desert roads, before the longer road home

6 Replies to “Serenity and Spines – Lodging [on] the Desert”

  1. I spent many spring days in Palm Springs, as a child when my grandparents lived there. Like you, not a fan of oleanders. Oleander Leaf Scorch has started to make an appearance in the Phx area and I have seen some of my client’s oleanders affected. Maybe we will see a future with a LOT of Hop Bush and fewer oleanders? One can only hope…

    Like Apache Plume, Rosemary or Turpentine Bush in the high desert, I prefer to relegate those to the background. I forget about the leaf scorch you are getting. Need more diversity…and better maintenance of that diversity :-)


  2. Yes, there is a Trader Joe’s in Palm Springs, at least there was when I lived there. My favorite place to stay there is Korakia Pensione. So lovely.

    That’s a little closer. I’ll have to look I looked up the place you mention…swanky!


  3. Thank you for continually showing the beauty of the desert landscape. I’m quite fond of our lush and soggy landscape but have loved the few times I’ve visited the desert.

    I should mix in some other shots, but glad to dry so many out! I’m fond of your soggy, ferny place as well…


  4. I love the Borrego dessert! I grew up in San Diego and spent many a weekend camping out there. My most memorable trip was with my Dad to see Haley’s comet. From the camp ground you can hike up a wash that if you kept going would take you up into the mountains. In the spring it has a stream bed flowing down and if you are up early it is a nice refreshing hike.
    Thank you for the beautiful pictures it has been too long since I have been there. Maybe next time I visit SD to see my Mom I will take a drive. It was one of the great things about SD…you have the beach, the mountain, and the dessert all close enough to visit for the day.

    I remember people in San Diego would fill their pickup truck beds with snow from Julian or Cuyamaca, then come back and dump it on their lawns! I’ve been up a few palm canyons in Borrego, but so much to explore. Glad you enjoyed…still have more from there and SD.


  5. I’ve said this before here and will say it again – I so appreciate the long views you offer, both literal and metaphorical. And while your point of where and how to properly use them is well taken, I grew up gardening under the tutelage of a real oleander fan and it is hard to shake off my inculcated admiration of it’s beautiful blooms dancing against the deep green leaves.

    I like oleanders to, just not tortured into a tiny space! Glad you like the views…they are amazing.


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